Tag Archives: blogs about blogging

In Celebration of My 100th Blog Post

It’s a milestone, don’t you think? It seems so to me. This blog post right here, the one I hope you are currently reading, is the 100th blog entry by Michael Jarmer. It took me two plus years to get here. So help me do the math. What is it? 50 posts a year? That’s 4.166 posts a month–but that wouldn’t be accurate, really, because there have been months at a time when I posted not a thing, and I’ve never posted less than a whole post, a fraction of a post, unless you consider a poem as something somewhat less than a full post, but then you’d be in some hot water with the poets. I wouldn’t want that for you.  But, to be truthful, the 45 poems I’ve posted, 30 of which were composed one-a-day as part of National Poetry Writing Month in  April, did enhance my numbers, productivity speaking. So, suffice it to say, I’m pleased with myself and I hope you are too–and to all of you who have made this blog site a regular stop of yours, I thank you from the very depths of my being.

Other than just to make a celebratory statement about my 100th blog entry, I’m not sure what to write about here.  Perhaps I could just muse a little bit on the effect blogging has had on my life and on my writing.  That might be good.  Perhaps, I could talk about the pros and cons of blogging.  At the very least, there may be some learning about the whole process that I could discover and then articulate for your reading pleasure, that is, if you find that kind of thing pleasurable.  Let’s have a go at that, shall we?

Blogging has made me more productive.  I’m a fiction writer, primarily, but I find that to write fiction, I need sustained amounts of time to immerse myself in the fictive dream, so to speak, sustained amounts of time that don’t occur for me on a regular basis–so my fiction composition is as slow as mud;  it took me ten years to finish Monster Talk and probably another ten years before the start of that project to finish my first novel, the one that’s been sitting in a box on my desk now for the better part of the last decade, yeah, the one about Spontaneous Human Combustion. Outside of my fiction writing, before blog (B.B.) I’d find myself writing poems every once in a while, sometimes in flurries far and few between, and sometimes I’d write a little bit of something in the context of my teaching for my colleagues, and whenever I could I would write alongside my students. But never could I say, that over the course of a year or two, that I had “finished” 100 pieces.  I’m still writing my fiction, slowly, I’m still doing odd writings here and there at work for colleagues and students, but on top of that, I have completed 100 blog entries. Perhaps, embarking on this endeavor, I have written more, finished more short pieces than I ever did B.B.

Blogging has widened my repertoire. I’ve written here essays about teaching, essays about parenting, essays about music, essays about writing, essays about fashion for crying out loud (thanks to Betabrand), autobiographical essays, cultural criticism essays, and blogs about blogging.  And I’ve written poems about 45 different things.  First off, my non-fiction output has shot up from no thing to 100 things! And secondly, none of those things are the things for which I think I am truly skilled and for which, as evidence of said skill, I have a piece of paper and a book! So blogging is helping me come into my own, I hope, as an essayist.

Blogging is spontaneous, improvisational in nature, at least it is for me, and that’s helpful because it has enabled me to explore things about which I have questions.  I choose a blog topic simply by intuition.  I’ve got lists here and there, but I don’t often refer back to them.  Rather, an inspiration will hit, stick with me for a day, an hour, or a few minutes, and I kind of know right away, I get a kind of temperature, and if it’s hot, if it sticks with me, if it compels me to sit down and begin typing, I go for it.  I rarely abandon a piece that I’ve started writing.  So blogging has also brought me a level of commitment toward finishing the things I start.  I appreciate that.

Are there any negatives in my blogging experience?

There’s a part of me that says ANY writing I do is a good use of my time.  Writing is something I want to do, so if I’m doing it, that’s a good thing.  But I have to ask myself, if all the time I devoted to creating blog entries over the last two years had been spent on fiction writing, how much further would I be toward the completion of a new novel–and wouldn’t that have been a BETTER use of my time?  My gut response is to answer no to that question.  When I think about the pleasure I have found in blogging coupled with the productivity and the way I feel like it’s broadened my writing, I am glad to have started the blog site and glad to have kept at it for two years.  I wouldn’t want to undo that progress in exchange for a draft of a new novel.  And what’s to stop me from blogging progress on the new novel?  What’s to prevent me from blogging fiction?

Now this is a difficult and dicey proposition, one that I have explored a little bit in an entry I wrote after National Poetry Writing Month.  There’s something scary and negative and offensive to me about drafting fiction in public.  I’m not sure exactly why–but I kind of feel like it demeans it somehow, and I’m guessing real poets feel the same way about publishing poems on a blog site.  I’m not sure I consider myself a real poet.  No, that’s not true.  I’m as real a poet as any other poet. Maybe it is that I have a different relationship to my poetry than I do with my fiction.  My poetry is kind of offhand, not meticulously crafted, and doesn’t have behind it a piece of paper and a book.  I know that and accept that about my poetry, so I’m not as guarded about it or as protective.  And the comment earlier, that I’m not a real poet, is only an effort to honor those poets who are guarded and protective about their work,  who feel like publishing their poetry in a blog post would somehow be demeaning or disrespectful to the work.  I’d love to hear other writers’ takes on this.  Ultimately, I think it’s all in my head.  That’s the truth of it.  And that leads to another potentially negative aspect of blogging.  This stuff in my head, emerging, not quite perfectly formed, sometimes even faulty, frail, wrong–it’s all right here on my blog site.

Blogging has made me a kind of statistic blip addict.  And that’s not a good thing. It’s something I want to work on–not being so needy about that. Part of the beauty and conversely the danger of blogging is the experience of instant publication and often instant feedback. How many visitors, likes, new followers, new comments, did that entry receive and what does it all mean?  This is something bloggers should be interested in, I suppose, but not obsessing about.  Only once have I obsessed–and it was terrible. Long after its original composition, a blog entry I wrote entitled “English Teacher Math: Teaching 200 Students How To Write” was posted and roasted on the Reddit social network  site.  It resulted in the busiest single day or two ever on my blog, and it resulted on Reddit in some pretty good conversation, some of it smart and helpful, but it also resulted in a number of absolute looney tunes posting comments after that blog entry on my site–all of which culminated in a near complete and total TIME SUCK in my life and in my head.  You know, hatred from strangers will have a tendency to do that–unless you have developed a strategy for dealing  with it, which I had not. I was a complete basket case for three days.  I got over that, and I have never had a repeat performance.  If another one comes up, I hope I will deal with it more effectively.  Blogging should not be a stress producer–and I’m thankful to say that exactly 99% of the time it has not been!

So there you have it, for now.  A meditation on my first 100 blog posts.  If you got this far, I thank you.  If you have been a regular visitor or a follower, I thank you.  If you would purchase my novel Monster Talk, I would be forever grateful.  It’s been a good trip, thus far.  I think I will continue doing this thing.  Cheers.

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Filed under Poetry, Publishing, Self Reflection, Writing and Reading

Of Internet Trolls and Stupid Insecurities

A first for me!  I’ve experienced, or have been the victim of, my first internet troll (or so I think).

It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve become aware of such an animal as the internet troll, my first introduction probably coming from an internet video blogger by the name of Jay Smooth, who rocks, by the way.  My particular troll posted a comment in response to a blog entry about my fancy smoking jacket several weeks after the entry had been published.  Because I deleted it almost immediately, I couldn’t remember exactly how it was phrased, but it was a single sentence, only half of which I understood, the other half making reference to a group or a subject that was incomprehensible to me.  The half I did understand said, simply, fuck you.

Then I started thinking that I wanted to know or wanted to remember what the rest of that little missive said–and I found a way to retrieve the comment from my trash.  See where this is going?  Already I had given too much attention or psychic energy to this supposed troll. Here’s the message in its unedited entirety: “Fuck you all Forex bustards.”

Okay.

A little research revealed that Forex is an on-line service to help people trade on the U.S. Commodity Exchange, or, in laymen’s terms, The Stock Market. I don’t know what it has to do with smoking jackets. I am not a member or a participant in Forex.  I had no knowledge of such an entity before I received this vitriolic comment post.  I am completely innocent of being associated with it in any way, shape, or form.  So what’s up with this guy? Or gal?  –I’d never want to assume the gender of my particular troll, but I assume he’s most likely a male.

I thought, first, this is a message accidentally sent to the wrong audience.  But that couldn’t be, because in order to post a comment on someone’s blog, you’ve got to be looking at their blog page, yes, and clicking your mouse or whatever it is you’re using as a clicker right there on the “leave a comment” button, right? So it seems to me this had to be a deliberate effort to send a message directly to my blog page. I am not a Forex bustard.  I repeat it, sir.  I am not a Forex bustard.  I don’t know what a bustard is. Ultimately, I don’t even know if I have, in reality, been the victim of a troll, or rather, the victim of stupid insecurities caused by some stupid program that sends spam to blogsites.

I could figure this whole thing out in several different ways.  I could be insulted and hurt because someone has cursed at me and called me a bustard  right to my blog page face.  And I could be angry that I invested so much energy in defending myself against an undeserved abuse by researching Forex and bustards and writing a blog entry about all of that. Or, I could be angry at myself for any insecurities I have that would lead to hurt feelings about a stupid comment that has no real relevant content related to me or anything else I may have written in a blog entry. I could be disappointed in myself for not calling it quits immediately after I trashed the comment the first time.  And if it is a spam and not a troll message, I could just feel silly, generally speaking, because everyone knows there’s absolutely nothing personal about a spam, annoying as they are.

Or

I could be thankful.  I could be thankful, because this troll or this spammer has taught me a few things: one, that there is a trading company called Forex; two, that there are fake companies defrauding people in the name of Forex; three, sometimes spam is difficult to distinguish from trolling; and four, I am way more hypersensitive than I thought I was or ever should be.  But ultimately, this troll or this spammer has initiated and then inspired my 40th blog entry, and for that I am thankful.

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Filed under Culture, Self Reflection